Monday, November 26, 2007

Absolutely Brilliant : Learn and feed the poor simultaneously

I just stumbled on a fantastic site called Freerice ( in which you try to guess the meaning of different words. For each word you get right, a donation of 10 grains of rice is given to the United Nations World Food Program.

This allows you to improve your vocabulary and give to the poor at the same time. The neat thing about it is that it figures out your level of vocabulary and works with you (it can even remember your last level). There is a maximum level of 50 (my best for the few times I played was 40 - beat it and brag to me about it!).

10 grains of rice is not a lot by itself, but it adds up pretty quickly. On November 25th (the site has been up only since October), 140,583,040 grains of rice were donated. If we assume that a kilogram of rice is 43,000 grains of rice (from
Solving Math Problems Kids Care About), then 3,250 kilos of rice were donated. This is the equivalent of (+-) 65 polypropylene bags of 50 kilograms each. Given than a 20 foot container could have between 18 to 23 Metric Tonnes of rice then yesterday's players donated approximately 15% of a container... In other words, within a week, a full container could be loaded and shipped to feed the needy.

This is just incredible and shows the power of numbers especially when put to the common good.

To reap the full benefit of the learning experience, visit the sites behind the site (such as and the Unite Nation's World Food Programme)...

I'm going to head back right now to see if I could go higher than level 40 and give my first 1,000 rice grains to the poor...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

From Thanksgiving to Peacegiving

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday celebrated in Canada and the USA. One of my favorite stories on its origin is written by Art Buchwald (R.I.P.) with the title of Meanwhile: Chacun à son goût on Thanksgiving (thanks JF for forwarding it). The essence of the day was summarized by a classmate (FH) in a correspondence from London by stating that Thanksgiving "is very inclusive (not religious, not ethnic, not political, ...). Just family and friends. "

I ended up reading many e-mails and articles today on Thanksgiving and ended up sent a few myself. Friends have shared their fond memories of the day, best techniques for preparing the turkey (chestnuts Ari?), the advantages of grain fed vs. farmed turkeys and how the poor turkeys are treated in the slaughterhouse. Suffice to say, it seems that Turkey Saves the Brain as there are Antioxidants abound in holiday meals...

Reflecting on Thanksgiving and how it brings diverse people together in North America, I thought we should dream together about a new holiday called Peacegiving in which nations get together to celebrate our humanity and our potential for good. What would be a good day to have our first Peacegiving? Would a day in June do the job? Should we start at a more grassroot level and make peace with our neighbours? Let's start the dialogue on this... I would love to hear from you!